Talk to Me

A sensational directorial debut from Australian brothers Daniel and Michael Philippou, Talk to Me is one of the most unnerving, and at times distressing, supernatural horrors of recent years.

Grieving from the sudden loss of her mother, teenager Mia and her friend Jade, along with Jade’s boyfriend Daniel and brother Riley, take part in a viral social media séance involving a dismembered hand allowing participants to interact with the dead. Naturally, things are taken too far, leading to terrible ramifications. Mia, however, is convinced she can interact with her mother, and is compelled to keep pushing the limits.

From Don’t Look Now to The Babadook, we’ve seen supernatural horror films explore the effects of terrible loss, and the consequences of unresolved trauma for the afflicted and those close to them, with Talk to Me demonstrating the same emotional maturity of the aforementioned. This exploration is not unlike that portrayed in Smile. It’s also just as unsettling, playing with the audience’s understanding of what’s real and what’s not. The cinematography throughout is inventive, along with the use of lighting. It understands perfectly when and when not to be explicit, keeping its viewers constantly on edge. When the nasty bits come, they hit hard.

Intentional or not, there is a hint of venom in Talk to Me’s portrayal of social media’s effects, and even avid social media users themselves. Given the Philippou brothers’ prior work, I suspect this is deliberate. Social media in Talk to Me is a tool of gross desensitisation and encourager of intrusiveness in contemporary youth. This is demonstrated during a disquieting montage sequence during one séance. It’s also interesting that nobody questions the validity of what they’re seeing. The characters are in no doubt that the apparitions are real, they simply don’t care.

A must-see for horror fans, made with an expert understanding of the genre, and a satisfying condemnation of social media’s corrosive effects.


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